AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The American Red Cross serving the Texas Panhandle is encouraging people to take steps to prepare their homes for house fires.
“Home fires remain the most frequent disaster during COVID-19, yet most of us don’t realize we have just two minutes to safely escape,” said Kiley Murray, executive director of the American Red Cross serving the Texas Panhandle. “As families spend more time at home during the pandemic, it’s critical that we help our vulnerable neighbors protect themselves from these everyday disasters.”
It is all a part of the organization’s national effort called “Sound the Alarm,” which was launched in 2014.
“Since then, we have been credited with saving over 860 lives, and we this year have a goal of making 100,000 homes safer through the month of May,” said Betsy Cornette, the disaster program manager for the American Red Cross serving the Texas Panhandle.
Families are encouraged to take the “Pledge to Prepare” by taking some steps to ensure their family’s safety.
“It’s vitally important that we check those batteries, and we prefer to have it done once a month,” said Cornette. “It’s very, very important to make sure that those batteries are working and that smoke detector will go off if there’s a problem.”
Cornette also said to check the manufacture’s date of your smoke alarm. If it is more than 10 years old, it will likely need replacing.
Another step is to make sure you have smoke detectors placed throughout your home.
“Any of the common areas such as a living room in the hallways, particularly outside the sleeping quarters, bedrooms, and things like that. You would not like to have one in the kitchen because the heat and the smoke, depending on how you cook, can set them off… You do want them on every level of the house,” said Cornette.
Another thing that people may not think of is to have an escape plan. Cornette said you only have about two minutes to make it out safely, so having and practicing a fire escape plan is imperative.
“You need to have two routes outside of the house. The first route would be through the normal exits; the doors and so forth. You have to have a meeting place so that everybody knows where to go so you can establish who’s out of the house and who’s not. Then you need a second escape route, maybe through the windows, so that you can also know how to get out there,” said Cornette.
Cornette said once you are out of the house, never go back in.
“The fire department will be there and with their equipment. They can safely go in the house and save your pet or something that you may have left,” said Cornette.
Families can put their names on a list to receive a free smoke alarm installation. For more information and to request a free smoke alarm, click here.
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